Friday, January 12, 2024

favorite new year's black-eyed peas

I've experimented through the years and riffed many times on my grandma's black-eyed peas New Year's Day tradition. We think
this year's was the best so far.

And I believe that part of the flavor came from gratitude; I finished cooking this pot of beans on January 1, 2024, just before our Ishikawa Prefecture earthquake hit at 16:16. We survived and so did our black-eyed peas. (Normally I would serve these with cornbread, but after evacuating from the house and coming back later in the evening, I shakily defrosted some frozen rice instead.)

You'll need:

  • Bacon fat
  • Chopped bacon
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Komatsuna greens (mustard greens)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Green beans
  • Veggie bouillon
  • Tomato paste
  • Bay leaf
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried parsley 
  • 500 g dried black-eyed peas
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Paprika
Do this: 

In a stock pot, saute onions, garlic, bay leaf, and komatsuna greens in a big wad of bacon fat. Add in the chopped bacon and cook through, then some chopped green beans. Next, add the black-eyed peas that you have soaked overnight in the fridge and then drained. Cover all of it with water and throw in your seasonings and tomato paste. Simmer until the beans are soft and a lot of the liquid has evaporated.

The only measured ingredient was those black-eyed peas. All the rest was conjured with love. 

Add in or detract as you desire. You know what your family likes. 

Everyone in mine said this was the best version yet.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

gluten-free dairy-free seafood tomato chowder

I bought frozen shrimp and frozen katsuo fish (skipjack tuna), knowing I would come up with something delicious. Riffing off this recipe for spicy tomato seafood chowder, this is my Mamatouille version, using ingredients available in Japan. 

You'll need:
  • olive oil
  • onion, chopped
  • celery, chopped
  • garlic, minced
  • potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • carrot, peeled and chopped
  • one bunch of komatsuna greens or spinach, washed and chopped small (including stems)
  • one bay leaf
  • 6 cups water + 2 beef, chicken, or veggie bouillon powder sticks
  • salt and pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • dried parsley
  • paprika (powder)
  • 2 small jars (about 8 oz. or 240 ml each) tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • seafood of choice (I chopped shrimp and katsuo fish)
  • top with grated non-dairy soy cheese
Do this:

Saute the veg in big glugs of olive oil, add water and bouillon, and simmer till the veg are tender. Add in the rest of the ingredients and bubble, bubble, toil, and no trouble. 

Serve topped with grated non-dairy soy cheese and a side of rice-flour bread rolls.

Peachy poinsettias are optional but add a festive touch. Stacks of paper and books are a must. 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! I'm gonna add this recipe to my recurring repertoire for 2024. 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

gluten-free and dairy-free kabocha pumpkin and veggie chili (no beans)


I've made this for years, and originally borrowed it from Practical Paleo, where I think it was called Butternut Squash Chili or something similar. Here's my take with ingredients I can procure here in Japan. 

You'll need:
  • about 1 kg of ground meat (in Japan they have a mix of beef and pork)
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes (about 450 g each)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 Japanese sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • a bunch of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 of a kabocha pumpkin, chopped small
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1.5 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Do this:

Cook your ground meat in a pan on the stove, then bung that with the rest of the ingredients in a slow cooker and whack it on high heat for the day. Enjoy with cornbread and salad and friends. Just don't eat the friends. 

Monday, October 2, 2023

french carrot salad (salade de carottes rapees)


(Check out the beautiful orange salad in the bottom right corner of the bento box.)

I don't know where I found this recipe, but it's absolutely sweet, vinegary, and citrusy, so I always double it. The recipe below is half of what I normally make, although finely grating two carrots is a chore in my book.

You'll need:

  • 1 carrot, finely grated
  • 1/2 navel orange, segmented
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Dill leaves (I always leave these out because I never have them)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Do this:

Combine and chill, man.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

tabasco popcorn


Pop the popcorn on the stove. Add salt. Melt margarine (or butter if you can have dairy) and Tabasco together and pour over. Husband will hand you a box of tissues because he thinks you might get goopy hands, but actually said tissues will be used for copious tears at the ending of The Return of the King film.

Friday, September 15, 2023

vegan tofu raisin banana bars


Great portable snacks for a train trip!

I got this recipe from, but of course I changed it a bit. Here's my version.

You'll need:

  • 2 cups oats
  • 300 g soft tofu
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoon mixed nut butter
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Do this:

In the food processor, blitz one cup of oats into powder. 

In a big mixing bowl, mash the bananas and tofu together, then add the rest of the ingredients except for the walnuts and stir well. Pour into an 8X8 inch/20X20 cm baking pan lined with a piece of baking paper. Toss the walnuts on top and mash into the batter a little bit. 

Bake at 180C for 20 minutes. Cool down, cut, and then cut your teeth on these guys. We all love them. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

pineapple chutney


This was a treat at Christmas, but I think it would be good any time you have ham or chicken for a meal. I'll bet it would be tremendously delicious on a ham sandwich, too, and I'm going to try it on vanilla ice cream sometime. It was packed full of spice, tartness, sweetness, and just overall perky deliciousness. 

(Borrowed from The Healthy Foodie, but I've slightly changed it.)

You'll need:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 large pineapple, finely chopped (I used pre-cut pineapple in chunks, but then I had to chop it into tiny bits)
  • 1 dried Japanese chili, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 3 T. grated ginger
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • a pinch of ground cloves
Do this:

Saute the onion a few minutes in a frying pan, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on low heat about an hour, until most of the liquid is gone. 

Serve with a festive meal or whenever you darn well feel like it. 

Thursday, February 9, 2023

curry fried rice


I aggregated a few recipes plus my own ideas for this yummy curried fried rice, which one of our sons loves and one doesn't. I happen to be in the love camp. (I served it in my bento with carrot sambharo, another delicious concoction, and yogurt with honey, lettuce, tomato, and a lemon wedge.) 

You'll need:
  • ground pork, about 500 g
  • garlic cloves, minced, about 5 or 6
  • ginger, grated, about a 1-inch or 4-cm knob
  • cooked rice (I used 3 cups, pre-cooked)
  • 1 or 2 carrots, chopped finely
  • 1/4 head cabbage, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • frozen peas, about 200 g
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce, about 1 T. 
  • soy sauce, about 2 T. 
  • ketchup, about 1/4 cup
  • cooking sake, about 2 T.
  • turmeric, about 2 t. 
  • Japanese curry powder, about 1 T. 
  • 4 eggs, beaten
Do this:

Saute the onions, carrots, cabbage, garlic, and ginger in a tablespoon of neutral-flavored oil, then add in the pork and stir till cooked through. Throw in those peas. Pour in the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, cooking sauce, and ketchup along with your spices, then add in the cooked rice. Cook till you get little crispy rice edges in some places, then pour over your beaten eggs, let set a few minutes, then stir again before serving. 

If you need to do a little happy-taste-buds-dance, I won't stop you. 

Monday, January 30, 2023

gluten-free and dairy-free potato rosti quiche (from nadiya hussain)


I'm not sure if I got this recipe from the show "Nadiya Bakes" or "Nadiya's Time to Eat," but it's lovely and it disappears in one sitting down our four gullets. I've amended it just slightly.

You'll need:

  • 1 white potato
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 t. paprika
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 1 T. onion granules (I left these out because I didn't have any)
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 40 g flour (I used 20 g rice flour + 20 g almond flour)
  • 6 eggs
  • 200 ml milk (I used soy)
  • 150 g grated cheese (I used soy "cheese")
  • (optional extra: I thought I might add a teaspoon or so of nutritional yeast powder next time to give it an even bigger cheesy taste)
  • chopped chives or green onions
Do this:

Grate the potatoes (no need to peel) over a tea towel and then squeeze the liquid out. Put the drained grated potatoes in a big bowl and add the paprika, garlic powder, onion granules if you have them, sea salt, flour, and 1 egg. With your hands, squish it all together. 

Grease a pie plate and mash the potato mixture in using a round jar with a flat bottom. Bake it at 170 C about 13 minutes or until a little bit crispy. Beat an egg and put an egg wash all over the crust, then bake 5 minutes more. 

Beat together 200 ml of milk and 4 eggs. You could season with a little salt and pepper at this point.

Put the grated cheese into the bottom of the crust, pour the egg and milk mixture over, then sprinkle with green onions or chives. I cover my crust with a lovely red silicone crust cover so it doesn't burn. 

Bake at 160 C for about 30 minutes (might need more). Let it rest for 30 minutes out of the oven, then dive in! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

dairy-free and gluten-free cashew and veggie "cheese" dip

This is what my Blendtec blender cookbook calls "Garden Cashew Cream," but I call it MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE CHEESY CASHEW STUFF, PLEASE.  

You'll need:

  • 2 T. water
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T. soy sauce (I use gluten free)
  • 1/4 C. red bell pepper (I actually read this wrongly and used 1/4 of a red pepper, and it worked fine)
  • 2 T. red onion (I used white onion---it's cheaper!)
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast 
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 C. cashews, soaked for 2-4 hours and then rinsed and drained
Do this:

Put those ingredients in your blender in the order listed above, and then blast away! 

Tasty with tortilla chips or raw veggie sticks. 

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go soak some more cashews. 

Monday, January 23, 2023

best black-eyed peas


I've amalgamated my own family history of making black-eyed peas with a few other recipes from online, and I'm posting this here so I won't forget next time I have some dried black-eyed peas to play with.

Peas, please! 

You'll need:
  • 500 g dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 T. grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 t. paprika
  • 1/2 t. thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • chopped cooked ham
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 onion, chopped small
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch komatsuna greens (or whatever greens you wish), washed, drained, and chopped
Do this:

Soak the peas all day in water, changing the water every couple hours. Just before cooking, drain and rinse. 

Saute the onion, garlic, and greens in a big stockpot with the grapeseed oil, and when they're nice and browned and softened, add the black-eyed peas, water to cover, chopped ham, and all the spices. Simmer till the beans are softened and a lot of the liquid has evaporated. But make sure you keep some of that good pot liquor in there! It's great with cornbread. 

Friday, January 13, 2023

carrot sambharo


I can never get enough of carrot sambharo---it's great with curries, in a bento, as a side dish at a picnic, or in place of a regular boring salad. I don't remember how I found this recipe to begin with, but I used this one from Bon Appetit as a starting point.

You'll need:

  • three medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • about a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 t. kosher or sea salt
  • 1 T. veggie oil
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 T. tomato paste
  • 1/2 t. ground turmeric
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

Do this:

Toss the carrots with the salt and let the salt draw a bit of water out, then drain. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the tomato paste, garlic, red pepper flakes, and turmeric, and stir and cook for about 5 minutes. 

Add that mixture to the carrots, toss, and pour over the lemon juice. Stir it all up and then put in the fridge till you're ready.

Or just dive right in! The water (um, glossy spicy carrot mixture) is fantastic. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

jollof rice


Last year I got into the "Jesus and Jollof" podcast a little bit (hosted by two Nigerian-American ladies); sadly, there have been no new episodes dropped lately. Anyhoo, I also listen to the "Happier with Gretchen Rubin" podcast, and one of her recommendations for a happiness booster was to make a dish or drink that you've only ever read about or heard about, but had never tried. So jollof rice it was! And I have since made it several times---it's so flavorful and packed with new tastes (new to me in that combination). Here's the original recipe, but I don't put as much heat in as it calls for. I do that at the table for my plate only with Tabasco or sriracha. I halve the recipe (the original one calls for 4 cups rice).

You'll need:
  • 400 g canned tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped 
  • 2 cups basmati rice, rinsed
  • 2 onions (purple or white); one roughly chopped and one thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups stock
  • 2 teaspoons butter or ghee
  • salt and black pepper to taste
Do this:

In a blender, throw in the roughly chopped onion, the red pepper, the can of tomatoes, and 1 cup stock, blitz, then pour that liquid into a big pot and simmer for 10 minutes on the stove.

Also on the stove, saute the thinly sliced onion in a little bit of oil till soft, then put in a pinch of salt, pepper, the bay leaves, the curry powder, the thyme, and the tomato paste and stir around for a minute. Then add all that to the big pot of simmering sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes with the lid on.

Add the last 2 cups of stock to the big pot of tomato sauce and boil for a minute.

Stir in the rinsed rice, the butter or ghee, then cover the pot with foil plus the lid and turn down to low for 30 minutes without taking the foil and lid off. Then release the lid and foil carefully (lots of steam), stir, and serve with coleslaw, tomatoes, boiled eggs, and fresh sliced onions for the top. 

I can attest to the fact that this dish does indeed make me very happy. Thank you for the suggestion, Happier podcast! 

chicken tofu garlic ginger rice-noodle soup


No need for a fancy nomenclature for this bowl of deliciousness; just make it and eat it already. (I have posted about this before back in 2009, but I've upped the yum factor now.)

You'll need:
  • 1/4 head of cabbage
  • chopped green onions
  • splash of soy sauce
  • dash of sesame oil
  • 200 g rice noodles
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into small bites
  • hard tofu
  • fresh garlic, minced (lots)
  • fresh ginger, grated (again, lots)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 veggie bouillon cube
  • water
  • salt and pepper
  • rayu chili oil for seasoning each person's own bowl
Do this:

Add your veg, chicken, and seasonings (except the rayu), then water to your liking, and bring to the boil. When the chicken is cooked and the veggies are tender, add the uncooked rice noodles. They will cook right in that pot while you stir. 

Dress your own bowl with as much or as little rayu chili oil as you like. I like. 

rice-cooker gluten-free and dairy-free pineapple-ginger cake


I honestly don't remember where I originally got this recipe, but I've changed it quite a bit so maybe it won't matter too much that I don't credit the source (sorry, whoever you are!). It's basically a cake made in a rice cooker from a pancake mix, but it's super-duper easy and has minimal dirty dishes to take care of afterward. One of the boys wanted it on his Vaccine Day, so have it he did. 

You'll need:
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 g gluten-free pancake mix
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons oil, plus extra for greasing the rice-cooker insert
  • 100 g soy milk, or milk of your choice
  • 1/2 large can (400 g or so can) pineapple, cut into small bites
  • soy cream, a teaspoon of sugar, and a splash of vanilla for whipping
Do this:

Grease your rice-cooker insert with oil. In a mixing bowl, beat your eggs, pancake mix, oil, ginger, and milk, then stir in the pineapple by hand. Pour into your rice-cooker insert and press start. No need to choose a fancy setting; your rice cooker is a smart cookie.

Whip your soy cream, teaspoon of sugar, and splash of vanilla to dress your cake. As you can see, we do like a little bit of cake with our whipped cream. 

I shared the photo of the finished cake in a gluten-free group I'm in, and one of the other group members called it "the peaceful delicious moon." Exactly.